06/26/17 Human Interest
You get a kudo, you get a kudo, everybody gets a kudo.
Well, not everybody.
Kudos to the Tampa City Council for delivering the right message regarding the Confederate monument at the Hillsborough County Courthouse. Hopefully, its message of inclusion and respect will negate the negative national news generated by the County Commission's failure to properly relocate the statue away from the hall of justice. . . ....
The stories have left an indelible imprint on Bob Gries' heart.
One young man perseveres even though his mother has had three aneurysms. Another says he's seen his mother only once in five years.
A young lady says her mother has battled drinking problems for years, but her success in sports caused her to stop drinking. Another tells of how her coach took her in after child services removed her from her home....
06/19/17 Human Interest
Editor's note: Madelyn Hooper gave her father, Times columnist Ernest Hooper, the weekend off by filling in with this column.
In first grade, I told myself I had to listen to my dad's handpicked playlist of inspirational songs to have a good day. He would play Survivor by Destiny's Child, Get Up by Mary Mary and Just Stand Up, an all-star musical salute to people battling cancer that featured Miley Cyrus, Mary J. Blige and others....
Brian Prescott set me up.
The program coordinator for the Pasco School District asked me to address a group of students, teachers and administrators at a Together We Stand summit earlier this month.
The district's student services staff started Together We Stand in 2013 to bring together all of the stakeholders concerned about the impact of bullying: students, teachers, administrators and community partners. Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning made it a priority, and since its inception it has expanded to include a focus on a culture of caring....
Senior Connection Center, an aging and disability resource center in Tampa, encourages everyone to wear purple on Thursday in recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Of course, the fact that elder abuse exists represents a sad commentary about a society. But the numbers don't lie.
An estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. And that's only part of the picture: Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported....
06/04/17 Human Interest
Caddy's Restaurants now have a no-phone zone where customers receive a 10 percent discount if they agree to put away their mobile devices.
It's another sign of how pervasive technology has grown in our lives, particular for tweens and teens. Teenagers spend an average of 6 ½ hours each day in front of screens playing video games, texting on smartphones and searching the Internet on iPads....
Richard Gonzmart says it's the secret men won't share.
When he first joined the Advance Prostate Cancer Collaboration at Moffitt Cancer Center 12 years ago, Gonzmart longed for a spokesman.
In the years that followed, he created the first iteration of his annual Father's Day event to raise money for Moffitt's prostate research and searched for a survivor who could explain the benefits of early detection....
05/29/17 Human Interest
The debate has begun about removing a Confederate statue from outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse, and its removal is long overdue.
How can a government purporting to represent every citizen salute those who fought to deny equality to every citizen?
No one seeking justice at the courthouse should be greeted by a symbol of injustice, and despite a lot of historical debate, the Confederate Constitution clearly indicates that if the Confederacy had won, it would have continued slavery in the South and possibly extended it to new territories....
BRANDON — Sharmaine Burr awoke on May 20 full of emotion.
As she prepared to commence with St. Leo University students in the Tampa Convention Center and accept her bachelors degree in social work, she reviewed a list of achievements that defy time:
• sitting on the National Association of Social Work board.
• earning the association's student of the year honors....
Like a tiny bud, they entered to grow.
They longed for nurturing. They hoped to blossom.
And four years after they enrolled at Academy of the Holy Names, Teresa Toranzo, Lisette Cruz, and Khalea Armstrong graduated Thursday in full bloom. Toranzo will go on to the University of Miami, while Cruz and Armstrong will attend the other USF -- University of San Francisco.
Each credit the school's Link Scholarship program — created 10 years ago to increase diversity at the school — for providing a path for attendance at the all-girls Catholic school on Bayshore Boulevard. Each beamed with smiles as they spoke at a ceremony celebrating the program earlier this month....
05/22/17 Human Interest
Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-Treasure Island, told the audience at the St. Petersburg Chamber legislative roundup last week that the Legislature's failure to provide more funding for mental health initiatives was "immoral."
I couldn't agree more. When you ask mental health care advocates about what they need to better care for some of the community's most vulnerable citizens, you expect to get a litany of policy change requests. But really, they have a pretty a good grasp of what's required. They just need more money to provide proper treatment....
Trimeka Benjamin, founder and CEO of Swim Digital, says she genuinely wants to help other business women.
She concedes she's not where she wants to be, but after running her own company for eight years, she says she's still blessed to reach back and help other women.
Benjamin is launching the Sisterhood of Swim, a program of mentorship that her company is taking on by doing work at a discounted rate for women-owned, women-led businesses and a series of digital marketing workshops in partnership with Working Women of Tampa Bay. The program starts on May 30 in Tampa. ...
05/15/17 Public Safety
GIBSONTON — In the wake of a Hillsborough deputy's 2016 fatal shooting of Levonia Riggins, a 22-year-old unarmed black man, officials worried a series of protests in Clair-Mel might spill into violence much like the scenes the world witnessed in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 after an officer shot Michael Brown.
Spurred on by County Commissioner Les Miller, officials organized a series of community law enforcement workshops to help bridge the divide with residents and avoid a similar outbreak. The first were held in Clair-Mel last December....
05/14/17 Human Interest
Someone far smarter about Florida politics said that if Gov. Rick Scott vetoes the onerous budget passed by the Florida Legislature and the House and Senate override it, it would be a tremendous loss for Scott.
I disagree. He's already lost. So has the state.
The Legislature, led by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, ignored all of Scott's priorities, including Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. It has crafted a budget that undermines K-12 education, shafts the University of South Florida, cuts funding to worthy programs and shortchanges environmental efforts....
05/07/17 Human Interest
The speaker of the Florida House, the minority leader in the House, the head of the state Senate Appropriations Committee and at least a half dozen other "powerful" legislators purport to represent Tampa Bay.
Yet, the University of South Florida still got cheated out of earning pre-eminent status among state schools and all the prestige and money that come with the designation.
A late change in the standards moved the finish line, leaving a $48 million pool to be split between the University of Florida and Florida State....